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10 Mysterious and Mystical Templar Castles, Churches, and Fortresses

The Knights Templar were an organization that fought for the word of God. However, as time went by, their ideals of being soldiers for Christ was not what they expected, nor did it satisfy them. Over time they evolved, and their small society gained presence, and decisions were made in the confines of fortifications all over the world.

The Templars erected many buildings in the west including preceptories, churches, and granges for administration purposes. They were simplistic and utilitarian in form with of course a few exceptions. There was no dictated form of Templar church architecture.

Over the years, misconceptions about the circular construction of temples in Paris have led people to believe that every circular building was constructed by the Templars. However, that was not the case.

Furthermore, the Templars did not the believe that money should be spent on elaborate church construction and ornate accessories. Furthermore, allowing the construction of overblown and over indulgent European castles would only be an economic liability.

There was one exception, that being the Iberian peninsula, where in Aragon and Portugal the Order was pledged to fight against the Moors, and needed castles just as it needed them in the Holy Land.

1. Al-Aqsa Mosque

1 al aqsa mosque c hlp 10 Mysterious and Mystical Templar Castles, Churches, and Fortresses

n 1099, Jerusalem was captured by the crusaders and instead of the complete destruction of Solomons temple, it was turned into a royal palace for the crusaders. In 1119, the temple was turned into the main headquarters for the Knights Templar. Many renovations were made including new vaulted ceilings, and boundary walls around the interior worship areas to section off the rituals.

2.Chastel Blanc

2 2283151 10 Mysterious and Mystical Templar Castles, Churches, and Fortresses

In most cases, these structures were built both for the use of a chapel and a fortress. They were aligned with the sea and the lookout towers were constructed in a way that made their surrounding fortresses more visible in case of attacks. Chastal Blanc was situated in the Safita’s three hills and from the tower the Templars were able to view their strongholds at Tartus and Ruad Island to the northwest, Chastel Rouge to the southwest, Akkar to the south, and Krak des Chevaliers to the southeast.The bottom floor is an Orthodox chapel maintained for the worship of Saint Michael and by the residents of Safita. The upper floor was used as a dormitory and the angled windows for archers.

3.Krak des Chevaliers

3 Krak des Chevaliers 1 10 Mysterious and Mystical Templar Castles, Churches, and Fortresses

From a historical standpoint, Krak des Chevaliers is by far the best preserved feudal castle in the world. This fort was part of the network along the Mediterranean that controlled the fishing industry and watched for Muslim armies gathering in Syria. “In 1142 it was given by Raymond II, count of Tripoli, to the Hospitallers, contemporaries of the Knights Templar.” Keeping with the traditions of an inner sanction, more walls were built around the fortress forming almost a series of nesting areas.

There were drawbridges connecting the courtyard, a chapel, and 2 stone stables which held up to a thousand horses. Storage areas were built below the fortress, into the cliff-sides. “It is estimated that the Hospitallers could have withstood a siege for five years.”


4 safed israel 10 Mysterious and Mystical Templar Castles, Churches, and Fortresses

In 1266, the Mamluk sultan Baybars wiped out the Christian Templar population and turned it into a Muslim town called Safad or Safat. According to al-Dimashqi (who died in Safed in 1327), writing around 1300, Baybars after levelling the old fortress, built a

“round tower and called it Kullah. Its height is 120 ells, and its breadth is 70. And to the terrace-roof (of the tower) you go up by double passage. Five horses can ride up to the top (of the tower) abreast by winding passage-way without steps. The tower is built in three stories. It is provided with provisions, and halls, and magazines. Under the place is a cistern for rain-water, sufficient to supply the garrison of the fortress from year´s end to year´s end.

5.Chastel Rouge

5 Chastel Rouge 10 Mysterious and Mystical Templar Castles, Churches, and Fortresses

Chastal Rouge was part of the network of fortresses including Chastel Blanc, Krak des Chevailiers, and Arima. The castle stands in the village of Yahmur between Tartus and Tripoli., and belongs to the Frankish family, vassals of the Counts of Tripoli. The counts entrusted the structure to the Sovereign Military Hospitaller and 400 gold pieces were given to the Montolieu for compensation.

Chastal Rouges history is still in question, although it is believed to be a secondary fortress of the Templar Knights.


6 Tomar 10 Mysterious and Mystical Templar Castles, Churches, and Fortresses

In 1159, the land was givien to the Knights Templar and the Grand Master in Portugal, Gualdim Pais, laid  the first stone of the Castle and Monastery that would become the Head-Quarters of the Order in Portugal in 1160. The Templar’s vowed to defend the peoples from Moorish attacks using the fortification as a shield. The foral or feudal contract was granted in 1162 by the Grand Master to the people. With the outpouring of criminals, they still were given certain rights in order to encourage a larger habitation. Women were also included in the order, which naturally they always were if they were the wife of a knight, however they were forbidden to bear arms or fight in battle. In 1190, the town was attacked by Almohad King Yakub, but the Templars were successful in defending their holding.

Around 1314, at the end of the Templar trials, the Pope was under extreme pressure to ban the Templars, so all the possessions and men were ordered to join the Order of Christ. All assets were then transferred and the Old Templar organization was reinstated in its new form, and recognized by the Pope John XXII.


7 Arwad 10 Mysterious and Mystical Templar Castles, Churches, and Fortresses

The island of Ruad was used as a staging area by the Crusaders, as they attempted to retake Tortosa after they lost the city in 1291. Mongol leader Ghazan asked the Cypriots to meet him in Armenia, and from there the Cypriots formed a land troop consisting of Templars, Hospitallers, and men under the rule of  Amalric of Lusigan.

They had some success in Tortosa, but they were in need of reinforcements which never came. This resulted in the Crusaders having to flee to Ruad. Ruad was the last piece of the Holy Land ever possessed by the Templars, as they were losing the battle to the Muslims.

8.Sidon Sea Castle

8 Sidon sea castle 10 Mysterious and Mystical Templar Castles, Churches, and Fortresses

The Sidon Sea Castle was built by the Crusaders in 1228 A.D. , however all that remains after the fall of Acre to Mamluks are two towers overlooking the port town, as well as a connecting causeway. What fascinating about the construction of this particular sea fort is the use of Roman columns for reinforcements, a feature only seen at Roman sites.


9 baghras2 1 10 Mysterious and Mystical Templar Castles, Churches, and Fortresses

The construction of Bagras dates back to the 12th century and was occupied by the Knights Templar until 1189 when they were forced to turn it over to the Sultan of Egypt and Syria. By 1191, it was in the hands of the Armenians who’s possession became a major contention between the Templars and the Antiochenes.

The Templars regained control in 1216, however the fortress was under siege at the same time by the forces of Aleppo, the oldest inhabited city in the world.

After the fall of Antioch to Baibars in 1268, the garrison lost heart, and one of the brothers deserted and presented the keys of the castle to him. The remaining defenders decided to destroy what they could and surrender the castle. Despite the loss of the castle, Hethum II of Armenia and Leo IV of Armenia soundly defeated a Mamluk raiding force in the nearby pass in 1305.


10 Trapessac 10 Mysterious and Mystical Templar Castles, Churches, and Fortresses

Trapessac is a fortress located north of the town of Kırıkhan in Hatay Province, Turkey. The feudal castle was erected in the 11th century by the Knights Templar, together with the nearby fortress at Bagras. Once again, after a bitter defeat, Saladin gained the key to the fortress in 1188. The Templars, along with the Armenians, were in a great pursuit trying to overtake the fortress in 1237, but they were ambushed and sadly, they were defeated.

DNA test shows Hitler skull is that of a woman

  • DNA tests done on Hitler skull fragment
  • Result says it’s skull of a woman
  • Casts doubts on the death of Hitler

ADOLF Hitler may not have died in a bunker after fresh research suggests the skull thought to be the tyrant’s was from a woman.

hitler skull DNA test shows Hitler skull is that of a womanUS archaeologist Nick Bellantoni found fragments from the skull believed to be Hitler’s were too thin to be from a male, and suspected it was the remains of a much younger woman.

“The bone seemed very thin – male bone tends to be more robust. It corresponds to a woman between the ages of 20 and 40,” Dr Bellantoni said.

DNA tests performed in a US laboratory confirmed the remains could not have belonged to the Nazi leader.

The discovery casts doubt on the exact circumstances of Hitler’s death and could force history books to be rewritten.

Original accounts of Hitler’s death said he shot himself in the head in a bunker after taking a cyanide tablet on April 30, 1945 as the Russian army attacked Berlin.

His remains, along with those of his wife Eva Braun, were taken from the bunker, doused in petrol and set ablaze.

A year later, skull fragments were dug up by Russian forces which seemed to confirm Hitler had shot himself in the bunker.

In 1970, the KGB cremated Hitler’s remains except for the skull fragment.

Dr Bellantoni was sceptical about the theory the skull fragments belong to Eva Braun, who was with Hitler in the bunker where he supposedly died.

“There is no report of Eva Braun having shot herself or having been shot afterwards. It could be anyone. Many people were killed around the bunker area,” he said.

What’s Inside Rome’s Ancient Catacombs

Corridor in the famous catacombs of Rome

inside catacombs Whats Inside Romes Ancient Catacombs

Catacombs such as these were carved over hundreds of years, beginning in the second century A.D., from soft rock beneath the outskirts of Rome. The labyrinthine corridors of these underground cemeteries cover hundreds of acres and house the remains of hundreds of thousands of Christians and Jews.

Rome’s famous catacombs were built mainly by Christians who could not afford aboveground burial plots. Christian landowners outside the city allowed access to their property for underground burials, and over several centuries, the catacombs spread through miles of subterranean passages like these.

A cross inlaid in the floor of a library marks the spot where Indiana Jones has to dig to access the ancient catacombs of Venice in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The catacombs, a network of dark and narrow underground tunnels and tombs, hold the secret that eventually leads Indy to the hideout of the Holy Grail.
Unfortunately, the dramatic scene is a narrative license. “There are no catacombs in Venice, as the town rises on wood piles in the middle of the saltwater Venetian Lagoon. There is no room for underground chambers or passages, and only a few buildings have a basement,” says Luigi Fozzati, head of the Archaeological Superintendence of Veneto.

In fact, Venice’s cemetery is located on a small island outside the town, and the oldest tombs of nobles and heads of state lie aboveground in churches.

Double gallery in the catacombs of Rome

rome ancient catacombs Whats Inside Romes Ancient Catacombs To find catacombs, go to Rome, home of some of the oldest and longest burial underground tunnels in the world. “Hundreds of kilometers of catacombs run underneath the town and its outskirts,” says Adriano Morabito, president of the association Roma Sotterranea (Underground Rome). “Some of the networks are well known and open to visitors, while others are still scarcely explored. Probably there are a number of lost catacombs, too.”

The oldest tunnels date back to the first century. “The Jewish community in Rome built them as cemeteries. Christian catacombs came a century later. They were not secret meeting places to survive persecutions, as historians thought in the past, but burial tunnels, like the Jewish ones,” Morabito explains. “They used to grow larger and larger around the tombs of saints because people asked to be buried near their religious leaders.”

All Christian catacombs in Rome are property of the Catholic Church, and no one is allowed to explore them without special permission from the Vatican. “It’s not so easy to get the permission. That’s one of the reasons there have been very few archaeological expeditions to less known tunnels in the last decades,” Morabito says.

The Legend of the Holy Grail

The aura of mystery surrounding the catacombs has fed legends for centuries. Recently, Alfredo Barbagallo, an amateur archaeologist, claimed that the Holy Grail could be hidden in Rome, in the catacomb underneath the Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura, near the tomb of St. Lawrence, a deacon martyred in A.D. 258.

According to a legend, Pope Sixtus II entrusted the Holy Grail to Lawrence to save it from the persecution of Emperor Valerian. The deacon put the chalice in a safe place—and perhaps even sent it to Spain—before being killed. Barbagallo thinks the Grail never left Rome and is currently buried in a tunnel under the basilica dedicated to St. Lawrence.

Vatican authorities denied permission to open the catacomb and look for the chalice. “There isn’t any solid evidence behind Barbagallo’s claims,” says Vincenzo Fiocchi Nicolai, rector of the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology.

Adriano Morabito agrees. “We don’t expect any great discovery from Roman catacombs. Early Christians didn’t use to bury objects with the dead. As for now we only found inscriptions and human remains.”

Anatomy Of A Lego Minifig

.lego minifig Anatomy Of A Lego Minifig

The Lego Group began in the workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter from Billund, Denmark. Christiansen began creating wooden toys in 1932; the company began calling itself “Lego” two years later in 1934. The company expanded to producing plastic toys in 1940. In 1949, Lego began producing the now-famous interlocking bricks, calling them “Automatic Binding Bricks.” These bricks were based largely on the design of Kiddicraft Self-Locking Bricks, which were released in the UK in 1947. The first Lego bricks, manufactured from cellulose acetate, were developed in the spirit of traditional wooden blocks that could be stacked upon one another; however, these plastic bricks could be “locked” together. They had several round “studs” on top, and a hollow rectangular bottom. The blocks snapped together, but not so tightly that they could not be pulled apart.

The company name Lego was coined by Christiansen from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means “play well”. The name could also be interpreted as “I put together” or “I assemble” in Latin, though this would be a somewhat forced application of the general sense “I collect; I gather; I learn”; the word is most used in the derived sense, “I read”. The cognate Greek verb “λέγω” or “lego” also means “gather, pick up”, but this can include constructing a stone wall.

The Lego Group’s motto is “Only the best is good enough”, a free translation of the Danish phrase Det bedste er ikke for godt. This motto was created by Ole Kirk to encourage his employees never to skimp on quality, a value he believed in strongly. The motto is still used within the company today. A more correct translation into english would be “Even the best isn’t good enough”.

The use of plastic for toy manufacture was not highly regarded by retailers and consumers of the time. Many of the Lego Group’s shipments were returned, following poor sales; it was thought that plastic toys could never replace wooden ones.

By 1954, Christiansen’s son, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, had become the junior managing director of the Lego Group. It was his conversation with an overseas buyer that struck the idea of a toy system. Godtfred saw the immense potential in Lego bricks to become a system for creative play, but the bricks still had some problems from a technical standpoint: their “locking” ability was limited, and they were not very versatile. It was not until 1958 that the modern-day brick design was developed, and it took another five years to find the right material for it. The modern Lego brick was patented on January 28, 1958, and bricks from that year are still compatible with current bricks.


A model of Trafalgar Square, London in Legoland Windsor.

Lego pieces of all varieties are a part of a universal system. Despite variation in the design and purpose of individual pieces over the years, each remains compatible in some way with existing pieces. Lego bricks from 1963 still interlock with those made in 2008, and Lego sets for young children are compatible with those made for teenagers.

Bricks, beams, axles, mini figures, and all other parts in the Lego system are manufactured to an exacting degree of precision. When snapped together, pieces must have just the right amount of strength and flexibility mixed together. They must stay together until pulled apart. They cannot be too easy to pull apart, or the resulting constructions would be unstable; they also cannot be too difficult to pull apart, since the disassembly of one creation in order to build another is part of the Lego appeal. In order for pieces to have just the right “clutch power”, Lego elements are manufactured within a tolerance of 2 µm.

Primary concept and development work takes place at the Billund headquarters, where the company employs approximately 120 designers. The company also has smaller design offices in the UK, Spain, Germany, and Japan, which are tasked with developing products aimed specifically at these markets. The average development period for a new product is around twelve months, in three stages. The first stage is to identify market trends and developments, including contact by the designers directly with the market; some are stationed in toy shops close to holiday periods, while others interview children. The second stage is the design and development of the product based upon the results of the first stage. As of September 2008 the design teams use 3D modeling software such as Rhinoceros 3D to generate CAD drawings from initial design sketches. The designs are then prototyped using an in-house stereolithography machine. These are presented to the entire project team for comment and for testing by parents and children during the “validation” process. Designs may then be altered in accordance with the results from the focus groups. Virtual models of completed Lego products are built concurrently with the writing of the user instructions. Completed CAD models are also used in the wider organization, such as for marketing and packaging.

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